Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fish oil pills don't add benefit

March 31, 2009

ORLANDO (Florida) - HEART attack patients who are already taking the right medicines to prevent future problems get no added benefit from taking fish oil capsules, a large study in Germany finds.

The study tested a 1-gram daily dose of a prescription version of highly purified omega-3 fatty acid - the 'good fat' contained in certain oily fish that is thought to help the heart.

Researchers led by Dr Jochen Senges of the University of Heidelberg gave fish oil or dummy capsules to more than 3,800 people who had suffered a heart attack in the previous two weeks. About 90 per cent were already receiving all the medicines recommended to prevent a second attack, including aspirin, anti-clotting and cholesterol drugs.

After a year, it made no difference whether these patients took fish oil or dummy capsules. In both groups, fewer than 2 per cent had suffered sudden cardiac death, 4 per cent had another heart attack, and fewer than 2 per cent had suffered a stroke.

If recent heart attack patients are already getting good care, 'there is almost nothing you can do better on top of this' to further lower risk, Dr Senges said. He presented the results on Monday at an American College of Cardiology conference.

The research doesn't mean that fish oil is of no value, and the study didn't address whether it can help prevent heart disease in the first place, doctors said.

The prescription version used in the study, sold as Omacor and Lovaza in the United States and as Zodin in Europe, is a highly purified and standardised form, different from what many consumers buy off the shelf.

Omega-3 fatty acids also are found in wild oily fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines and herring. Scientists think it raises HDL, or good cholesterol, lowers harmful fats called triglycerides and slows the growth of plaque that can clog arteries.

The American Heart Association recommends adults eat fish at least twice a week, said Alice Lichtenstein, a Tufts University nutrition professor and Heart Association spokeswoman. For people with heart disease, the association advises 1 gram of omega-3 a day. -- AP

[Hopefully, this means fish oil pill business will die so Cod will end up on my plate instead of in a pill bottle.]

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